Author Topic: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?  (Read 3635 times)

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LadyStormwing

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One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« on: October 15, 2012, 03:15:33 AM »
It's a moot point, since the situation has resolved itself, but things at our little theatre got a little heated a few days ago because of someones self-proclaimed "brain fart" (her words, she fully admitted her mistake) and I'm interested in what everyone here thinks or might have done.

Background: (Scene, if you will!)
I'm in the early months of a two-year term on the board of directors of the local community theater (LCT). LTC is, officially, a "department of the Purple Dandylion Club". It's in our charter, we pay dues to the Dandylion club that allow us to use their building for our rehearsals and shows and such. Financially, it usually works out pretty well, as any other place would charge us for rehearsal time and they don't. However, that also means when problems arise, it's usually over something financial. They also rent out their building for a variety of other functions, as it has a full hall with kitchen besides the auditorium.

Now, LTC had a show opening last Friday that was to run this Friday and Saturday, and next Friday and Saturday for a total of 5 performances. (8pm on Friday and Saturday, with a 2pm matinee on Saturday.) Friday afternoon the board members for LTC got an email from the lady in the PDC who handles the rentals. She had mistakenly booked a birthday party for this upcoming Saturday at the same time the final performance would be going on. The people who were having the party were not willing to change dates, times, or venues. Did we think, or would it be possible, to do both simultaneously?

My immediate reaction was a resounding NO. LTC had booked the building for more than 8 months in advance, the party for only a few weeks. The building itself is more than 100 years old- anything said in the basement is easily heard upstairs in the auditorium thanks to the open-air ducts. We're usually careful not to hold a regular-volume conversation down there during show, let alone a party. We also sell concessions during intermission- there is no space upstairs to do so. However, other members of our group disagreed, saying that if we said "no", the PDC would lose a rental (=money) and we would look like the bad guys. One said they could dissolve the LCT completely if they wanted because we are technically just a part of them. There were a lot of emails with varying opinions and reasonings flying back and forth.

Given that the theater group was presenting a public show, with presold tickets, and had advertised and rehearsed et all since April, and knowing that although this was an honest mistake on behalf of Rental Lady's part, it was still a mistake, what might you have done? (I'll post the outcome in a reply).

NyaChan

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2012, 03:26:51 AM »
Well, it really depends on who has the power in the situation right?  If the theater truly has the power to dissolve your group, or even if they just have control over the premises while your booking of the space is not a contracted agreement so much as a favor, there really isn't anything your group can do beyond refusing to move and taking the consequences if they come. 

As for the rental lady, I wonder how strongly she tried to rearrange the birthday party thing.  I suspect she either didn't contact them and hoped you'd blink first, or when she did contact them, they just said no (as was their right) and she figured it was easier to get you guys to give in than it would be to risk upsetting a paying customer. 

Basically, I'd either get a firmer agreement in place for booking the theater, including an agreement on how to handle mix-ups like these, or just accept that one of the costs of doing the shows here is that you can't count on them following through. 

I will say though, that I don't like people who create the issue in the first place through their mistakes and then turn around and threaten others for not making it all go away for them.  How hard is it to check a planner to see if the building is free or not?  It isn't as if you informally booked a meeting room, you were essentially booking the whole building for a public show with tickets - that's not a small thing that is easily missed by any means.   

greencat

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2012, 05:21:41 AM »
From any standpoint, the theater performance, being scheduled first, takes precedence.  The brain-farter should have simply told the birthday party "I'm sorry, there was an error, and the space you booked is not available at that time.  Here are several options for rescheduling (options) and if none of those are acceptable, I'll happily refund your reservation."

DaDancingPsych

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2012, 10:29:00 AM »
From any standpoint, the theater performance, being scheduled first, takes precedence.  The brain-farter should have simply told the birthday party "I'm sorry, there was an error, and the space you booked is not available at that time.  Here are several options for rescheduling (options) and if none of those are acceptable, I'll happily refund your reservation."

There it is. This is the appropriate answer.

Had the renter lady come to my group, I would have to weigh the consequences. Is it better to appease the building owners so that we can continue using the space as a favor? or is it better to honor the tickets and plans for this show? (If the show was canceled, I assume that refunds would be made with the option of transfering tickets to a different show.) It's a tough call that the OP's group shouldn't have been put in, but once in it, I would simply weigh the factors and hope for the best... neither option is ideal. I'm not sure if etiquette would say that one option was better, though.

snowdragon

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2012, 10:53:07 AM »
First Come First Served. The party may have cost them one rental but your group also pays and has for a long time. And presumably will for a long time. This party is a one time thing. One could say that the Purple Dandylion club has a contract with you.

I don't think much of either person involved with booking the party. One made a mistake, but they are putting the onus on the theatre group to fix her mistake for her. And the other one is saying her  little party out weighs an entire groups of peo(ple plus all the audience member)s that have had plans 8 months. It's too bad that their party needs to move, but it needs to move. If I were part of the theatre group, I'd be looking for another venue at this point.

TootsNYC

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2012, 11:51:15 AM »
From any standpoint, the theater performance, being scheduled first, takes precedence.  The brain-farter should have simply told the birthday party "I'm sorry, there was an error, and the space you booked is not available at that time.  Here are several options for rescheduling (options) and if none of those are acceptable, I'll happily refund your reservation."

Yep.

In my opinion, she absolutely erred by even CONTACTING you.

NyaChan

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2012, 01:01:01 PM »
First Come First Served. The party may have cost them one rental but your group also pays and has for a long time. And presumably will for a long time. This party is a one time thing. One could say that the Purple Dandylion club has a contract with you.

I don't think much of either person involved with booking the party. One made a mistake, but they are putting the onus on the theatre group to fix her mistake for her. And the other one is saying her  little party out weighs an entire groups of peo(ple plus all the audience member)s that have had plans 8 months. It's too bad that their party needs to move, but it needs to move. If I were part of the theatre group, I'd be looking for another venue at this point.

Oh wait I forgot about that part.  OP - are the dues you pay in return for the use of the building the same as what others - like the birthday party people - pay to rent the facilities?

Bees

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2012, 01:19:48 PM »
Was the play suitable for the age of the birthday party guests? Yay  free tickets to a live performance ;D

Virg

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2012, 02:11:27 PM »
Not only do the members of the LCT pay dues to the PDC, they're also officially members of that club.  To consider that members of the club should get bumped out of a reservation they had first in favor of an outside rental is strange to me, and since it's the rental lady's fault that she sold an already occupied slot to someone else, I can't see why it's anyone's problem but hers to resolve.  Etiquette only requires that the refusal to move or cancel the show be done politely.

Virg

Roe

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2012, 02:39:23 PM »
IMO, the theater group had "dibs" and shouldn't have been asked to change or move the day/time of performance.

First come, first served comes to mind.

SPuck

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2012, 02:58:28 PM »
I'd say since you where there first try going over this lady's head if possible.

Solanna Dryden

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2012, 02:58:50 PM »
Was the play suitable for the age of the birthday party guests? Yay  free tickets to a live performance ;D

I disagree. If I came expecting a party, or was holding a party, I'd be pretty ticked if I was essentially a captive audience to a play that I may have no interest in seeing.
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snowdragon

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2012, 03:02:40 PM »
Was the play suitable for the age of the birthday party guests? Yay  free tickets to a live performance ;D

I disagree. If I came expecting a party, or was holding a party, I'd be pretty ticked if I was essentially a captive audience to a play that I may have no interest in seeing.

Conversely this theatre group sells tickets for their productions, I'd be ticked to find out that we were expected to give this birthday party free tickets because of someone else's mistake.

I also think the other patrons would be ticket to find out that they paid while this other group got in free. 

LadyStormwing

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2012, 03:37:58 PM »
OP here.

The LTC has been putting on shows in this very building for more than 80 years. We follow pretty much the same schedule every year- some type of fall show, Christmas musical, spring musical, and occasionally a small summer "thing" (like one-acts) if the weather's not too hot, as the building is not air conditioned.  :o So it's definitely not like we weren't on the schedule. (There's a full planner that goes out at the beginning of every year listing when all the different sub-departments, like us, the quilters, the gardeners, the cooking club, etc, have events). Heck, our shows up through October 2013 have dates. Anyway.

Outcome: The show we were putting on was/is a fairly popular Neil Simon production. Between the space issue with concessions and the way noise travels, we saw no way this was going to be possible. We could not reschedule our show, as there were other rentals on other dates that need the stage area and we also get a lot of "walk-ins" in addition to presold tickets.

Fortunately The Rental Lady who made the mistake in the first place knows someone in charge of rentals at another, similar hall not too far from us and was able to make the exact same arrangements over there. I have no idea what was said, but the party agreed to move.

And thus concluded what felt like a production of All's Well That End's Well, I suppose.

doodlemor

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Re: One Space, two parties...what would you have done?
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2012, 04:12:54 PM »


In my opinion, she absolutely erred by even CONTACTING you.

So true.  The reservations lady should have handled this quietly, and never bothered the theater company in the first place.  It sounds like this caused a lot of stress and drama to people who were already incredibly busy.

It sounds like the reservations lady doesn't think things through very carefully.